Guys and Dolls
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Guys and Dolls

4.3 17
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Cast: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra


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This 1955 film began life as two Runyon short stories, the most prominent of which was "The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown." This material was fleshed out into a 2-act libretto by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling, then set to music by Frank Loesser and directed by George S. Kaufman. Opening late in 1950, Guys and Dolls was one of Broadway's hottest tickets for several…  See more details below


This 1955 film began life as two Runyon short stories, the most prominent of which was "The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown." This material was fleshed out into a 2-act libretto by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling, then set to music by Frank Loesser and directed by George S. Kaufman. Opening late in 1950, Guys and Dolls was one of Broadway's hottest tickets for several seasons. The plot involves a certain Broadway citizen by the name of Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra), who maintains the "Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game in New York." Seeking a location for his latest high-stakes game, Nathan has an opportunity to rent out the Biltmore Garage, but he needs $1000 to do so. He decides to extract the money from high-rolling Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando), known for his willingness to bet on anything. Nathan wagers that Sky will not be able to talk the virginal Salvation Army lass Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons) into going on a date with him. While Sky goes to work on Sarah, Nathan endeavors to fend off his girlfriend Miss Adelaide (Vivian Blaine, repeating her Broadway role), who has developed a psychosomatic cold because of her frustrating 14-year engagement to the slippery Mr. Detroit. Thanks to some fast finagling, Sky is able to take Sarah on that date, flying to Havana for this purpose. By the time they've returned to New York, Sky and Sarah are in love, but their ardor cools off abruptly when Nathan, unable to secure the Biltmore garage, attempts to use Sarah's mission as the site of his crap game.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Karen Backstein
The Broadway musical Guys and Dolls -- source of such standards as "Luck Be A Lady Tonight" and "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat" -- also proved to be one of Hollywood's greatest musical achievments. This rollicking spectacle from 1955 offered a dream pairing of leads: the inimitable toughness of Marlon Brando with the street savvy savoir faire of Frank Sinatra. Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve) finds all the character nuances of Damon Runyan's original story and illuminates them against the colorful hustle and bustle of New York's Times Square. Guys and Dolls is the story of down-and-out gambler Nathan Detroit (Sinatra) and his floating crap game -- "the oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York" -- which comes vividly alive with song and dance scenes. Jean Simmons plays the prudish Sara Brown, and her infamous tango scene with Sky Masterson (Brando) in Havana rumbles with excitement. Vivian Blaine gives the performance of her career as the flaky, gorgeous dumb-blonde Adelaide, and Sinatra gives Detroit the kind of meekness and desperation necessary for us to feel empathy for this lowly gambler. Although Guys and Dolls continues to be a stage favorite, the film version maintains its own legend as one of America's most beloved musicals.
All Movie Guide - Michael Costello
Frank Sinatra, who had lost the starring role in On the Waterfront to Marlon Brando the year before, was irate over losing the Sky Masterson role, for which he believed he was better suited. He was probably right. Joseph Mankiewicz's screen version of the classic musical is solid entertainment, but doesn't nearly rise to the heights of its stage source. Damon Runyon's highly stylized version of the New York 1920s demimonde of gamblers, touts, and bookies is the setting for this tale of the reluctant reform of two of their number. As a writer, Mankiewicz knew enough to use the show's book almost in its entirety, and the dialogue is still as sharp as ever. But as a director, his lack of visual flair was always a drawback in his non-musicals, and in a show like this, it's truly deadly. The camera movements have no fluidity, the groupings are unimaginative, and the mise-en-scène is flat. The sets are so overlit that one expects a helicopter to land at any moment. Sinatra, possibly resentful over being cast as Nathan, seems to have phoned his part in. Although Brando may be a bit closer to the mark as Sky, one might wish that MGM had not prevented Gene Kelly from performing in the role which he also coveted. Still, there is much to enjoy in the film, especially the outstanding score, which seems not to contain a bad song. And in numbers like "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat," "Luck Be a Lady" and "Fugue for Tinhorns," it's as good as the best musicals ever made.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
Sales rank:

Special Features

Two Guys and Dolls documentaries: the Goldwyn touch and from stage to screen; More Guys and Dolls stories and musical performances; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Marlon Brando Sky Masterson
Jean Simmons Sarah Brown
Frank Sinatra Nathan Detroit
Vivian Blaine Miss Adelaide
Robert Keith Lt. Brannigan
Stubby Kaye Nicely-Nicely Johnson
B.S. Pully Big Jule
Johnny Silver Benny Southstreet
Sheldon Leonard Harry the Horse
Danny Dayton Rusty Charlie
George E. Stone Society Max
Regis Toomey Arvide Abernathy
Kathryn Givney General Cartwright
Veda Ann Borg Laverne
Mary Alan Hokanson Agatha
Joe McTurk Angie the Ox
Kay Kuter Calvin
Stapleton Kent Mission Member
John Indrisano Liverlips Louis
Earl Hodgins Pitchman
Harry Tyler Max, Waiter at Mindy's
Goldwyn Girls Actor
Sam Harris Spectator at Song and Dance Number
Matt Murphy The Champ
Julian Rivero Cuban Waiter
Larri Thomas Goldwyn Girl
Harry Wilson Man in Barber Shop
Franklin Farnum Spectator at Song and Dance Number
Frank Richards Man with Packages
Lynn Bernay Actor

Technical Credits
Joseph L. Mankiewicz Director,Screenwriter
Arthur S. Black Asst. Director
Jay Blackton Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
Howard Bristol Set Decoration/Design
Alexander Courage Musical Arrangement
Samuel Goldwyn Producer
Roger Heman Sound/Sound Designer
Michael Kidd Choreography
Ben Lane Makeup
Fred Lau Sound/Sound Designer
Frank Loesser Score Composer
Dan Mandell Editor
Cyril Mockridge Score Composer
Warren Newcombe Special Effects
Irene Sharaff Costumes/Costume Designer
Oliver Smith Production Designer
Harry Stradling Cinematographer
Vinton Vernon Sound/Sound Designer
Joseph C. Wright Art Director

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